STAKEHOLDERS in the agriculture sector have launched a campaign to ensure that women in Zimbabwe enjoy the same land rights as their male counterparts amid revelations that only 20% of the estimated 300 000 recipients of land under the government’s fast-track land reform were women.
BY NJABULO NCUBE
The Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network, a coalition of 27 civic society organisations in the agricultural sector, researchers, scientists, academics and students, on Friday launched a campaign dubbed Press4Progress Towards Women’s Land Rights at a belated World International Women’s celebrations in Dema, Seke.
Speakers, bemoaned the marginalisation of women in the aftermath of the land reform programme.
“Land reform has largely been biased towards men, but the Constitution states that women have the same land rights as men,” Sharon Chipunza, a programme officer with the Women and Land in Zimbabwe Coalition, said.
“The circumstances under which the land was acquired under the fast-track land reform programme was not gender sensitive, for instance people, who wanted land had to go and live in the bush or farms, where there were no social amenities.
“In other instances women had to leave their families, their children to live in the bush. This prevented most women from being allocated land, hence, only 20% managed to acquire land under these circumstances,” she said.
Chipunza pointed out that while the Constitution adopted in March 2013 was a “good” document as far as equal land rights for men and women was concerned, the government needed to translate it into a reality.
Freedom Mazwi, a researcher with the Sam Moyo Agrarian Institute, said researches undertaken by his organisation confirmed that only 20% of the country’s women befitted from the fast-track land reform exercise.
“We are encouraging the government to speed up the process of joint registration of land permits so that women are not left out in land ownership. So far, the government has issued a few permits to women farmers.
“Most farmers, who benefited under the fast-track land reform, are male. It creates problems in the event of the death of husbands. In most cases, widows are thrown out of the properties after the death of husbands. We are seen this phenomenon in polygamous relations and in single women,” he said.
Mutandwa Mutasa, president of the Zimbabwe Progressive Tobacco Farmers’ Association, said the sidelining of women under the fast-track land reform programme was a cause for concern, pointing out that of 7 000 farmers registered with his organisation nationwide, only 200 women had offer letters.